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Can sitting cause anxiety?

When life gets hectic it’s important to find some time to yourself to slow things down so that you don’t become overwhelmed and anxious by a busy schedule. A recent review of international studies highlights a link between sitting for long periods of time and anxiety. So what if your chosen relaxation activity of watching your favourite TV show or online shopping, is actually making you more anxious?

A research group from Australia conducted a new review of nine international studies on anxiety and highlighted there was evidence to link the amount of time people spent sitting down every, with the risks of feeling anxious. For some of us it’s unavoidable with 40-hour weeks in the office (which many of us commute to by car or public transport) to spend a good portion of day your sitting down. And we Fit Girls might have super powers but it still takes a lot of thought to plan things to make life easier. This itself can add to the worries and anxiety, so it’s not uncommon to feel anxious about how you are going to do everything that needs done, when your personal or professional schedule fills up.

Although none of the data across the varying studies prove that sitting causes anxiety, its important to think about in an age when many of us spend at least 9 hours a day sitting down. Then there is the issue of how you spend your free time. Just when you think you are doing the right thing by indulging in some me time to curl up on the couch and catch up on your favourite TV show, it seems this might not help you relax after all. But what comes first? Is it the activities we spend our time on whilst sitting that contributes to feeling anxious, or is it the being seated part?

Lead researcher of the study, Megan Teychenne of Deakin University’s Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, in Australia stated that the relationship between sitting and anxiety could be indirect due to people losing sleep from spending too much time online or in front of the TV. But she says it could also be more direct, if the activity is stimulating the nervous system, like with video gaming. If you love nothing more than to scroll through all of your social media in your free time, then this activity itself might also contribute to the knots tying in your stomach – a UK study in 2012 found that social media contributed to uncomfortable feelings through negatively comparing ourselves to others and with it FOMO (fear of missing out).

This adds even more reasons to trust that exercising is a great way to relax. We read it often that exercise is one of the best stress relievers, especially when the post workout endorphins kick in. But if a 45-minute gym class doesn’t sound like your idea of winding down, this review supports the importance of getting onto your feet throughout the day. It is recommended to be on your feet at least two hours in a day, so those who spend their working days seated, should make this a priority. If this sounds like it would have your employer twitching then get creative and try to stand every 20 – 30 minutes. If you’ve been killing it at drinking more water this won’t be too much of a problem as you’ll probably need to get up for the bathroom often!

Although it’s kind of like a chicken or the egg scenario, researchers have come to one conclusion: people need to stand and move. Although it might seem impossible when you need to catch up to the same episode of Game of Thrones as your friends, choosing to go a walk with friends, will be more relaxing than time spent alone on Instagram and gives you that important social time. When you are feeling anxious, think about the reasons why and do what you can to help ease it. If it’s something you can’t change, then try to accept the uncomfortable feelings rather than mindlessly doing anything in the hope that it will distract and relax you! 

 

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